Motorcycles come in all kinds of colors. Everybody knows that, but do you know that the color can actually go beyond just visual appeal?
The color of your motorcycle can literally save you life.
Not all colors are created equal and will have the same effect on the visibility of your motorcycle. So this begs one question.
What is the safest color for a motorcycle? White is the safest color for a motorcycle. White is the best motorcycle color for visibility because it creates a high contrast with the surrounding objects on the road. Other light colors like cream, beige, and yellow, are also safe, however, white is the most visible and safe motorcycle color.
While doing my research on the topic, I stumbled upon some interesting details and numbers. Continue reading below if you are curious to find more.
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What impact has color on motorcycle safety?
Although cars and motorcycles do not have many crossing points, this is one of the areas where they may have. As a result, motorcycle riders can benefit from some of the research done on cars.
Relationship between vehicle color and crash risk
One research aimed to find how the color of cars correlated with their odds of getting into an accident. In total, 17 different colors were investigated. The researchers found the following—the white color seemed to be the safest color, compared to it:
- Green had a 4% higher risk.
- Blue had a 7% higher crash risk.
- Red had a 7% higher risk.
- Silver had a 10% higher crash risk.
- Grey was associated with an 11% increased crash risk.
- Black was associated with a 12% higher accident risk.
See article: If you ride a motorcycle, will you eventually crash?
The best colors in terms of visibility
The only colors that ranked near white safety-wise were yellow, beige, and cream—all very light and visible colors.
However, white was proven to be the safest color in all light conditions.
White and other lighter colors created a better contrast between the vehicle and its surroundings on the road, making it easier to spot and discern. White, yellow, beige, and other lighter colors just stand out and have a better visibility index.
The worst colors in terms of visibility
In comparison, darker colors like black, grey, silver, blue, green, and even red have a lower visibility index and can easily blend with their surroundings—especially in low light conditions.
In addition to that, there was an association found between colors that were lower on the visibility index and crashes that were more severe.
Black is one of the most popular colors for a motorcycle. Black looks stylish and cool, and there just seems to be something very special about that color.
Among the worst colors were black, grey, silver, blue, and red. Other colors like green, purple, and pink, were also associated with higher crash risk, although the data was not statistically significant.
There is a common superstition among motorcycle riders that green is a bad (and unlucky) color for a motorcycle. But according to those statistics, even the infamous green color was not as bad as some of the other colors.
The difference in visibility during the day and night
At dusk and dawn, black had a 47% higher crash risk compared to white, grey had a 25% higher, and silver had a 15% higher crash risk.
That being said, during the day, the effect of the color on crash risk was the strongest and more consistent.
However, during the night, things proved to be very different.
All colors performed similarly in terms of visibility and contrast during the night, and their relative crash risk was similar. The difference in crash risk was reduced by up to 10% for the darker colors compared to the white color.
So during the night, the color may not play such an important role as during the day or at dusk and dawn.
This is the best video on visibility (Thanks Ryan!)
Does the color of your motorcycle gear matter?
One of the problems with the study mentioned above is that it is aimed at cars, which can have a bigger portion of their surface painted white. And when looked from the front, they just have a bigger frame.
On the one hand, you may expect the numbers mentioned above to carry over.
On the other hand, motorcycles are not only smaller, but when painted white, still a big portion of their surface will be mostly black. As a result, it may not be a stretch to assume that even if the motorcycle is painted white, there may not be a considerable difference accident-wise.
And this is precisely what one study found.
One study reviewed the data from many motorcycle riders and found no association between the motorcycle’s frontal color and the risk of crash-related injuries.
It can be assumed that the white and other lighter colors may not do much in terms of making your motorcycle more visible when looked at from the front.
However, the effect of the color on visibility when looked at from the sides was not studied. So the white color may still help and improve your visibility from the sides since a wider portion of the motorcycle can be observed.
However, the experts did find something else in connection to the color of your motorcycle gear.
- The study found that the color of your motorcycle helmet matters. Wearing a white helmet compared to a black helmet was associated with a 24% lower risk. And overall, the use of light-colored helmets was associated with a 19% lower risk. In other words, white is the best color for a motorcycle helmet.
- Wearing fluorescent clothing and gear was associated with a 37% lower risk of crashes, and it tended to increase as the light was falling.
- The use of headlights during the day was associated with a 27% decrease in the crash risk.
Does the motorcycle color matter?
The human brain has a certain habit of filtering things that are not as important and focusing on the details that it deems essential and vital.
The problem with motorcyclists is that they have a smaller frame compared to other motor vehicles like cars and trucks. Those bigger vehicles are easier to spot, pose a bigger threat, and, when moving, will attract more attention as their relative size compared to everything around them changes more drastically.
A motorcycle, on the other hand, is smaller and will not attract as much attention. Even as it closes the distance to other vehicles, its relative change in size is not as significant, and drivers may not get a good idea of how fast the motorcycle moves.
The reason I am saying all this is because while riding a motorcycle, you want to stand out. This is where a brighter color can come in handy.
A color that is as conspicuous as possible will definitely help other people spot you faster. Even though some studies suggested that the motorcycle’s frontal color may not have any effect on safety, it is important to know that there was no data on side visibility.
After all, it is still well worth having a motorcycle that is as visible as possible. You do not want to blend in with the darker color of the road, asphalt, and surrounding vehicles and objects. And the right color can improve your visibility ever so slightly. And white remains one of the best colors visibility-wise and safety-wise. This is why white is considered the best color for a motorcycle.
Given the potential risks and consequences of getting into a crash, every little bit of improvement in one’s visibility and safety is well-appreciated. (And if you are wondering, no, the color of your motorcycle should not affect your insurance.)
In addition to the color of your motorcycle, other factors can additionally improve your visibility on the road and all of which should be used if and when possible.
The color of the motorcycle matters as it may affect its visibility on the road and thus decrease the risk of getting into an accident. Nonetheless, the color of your motorcycle is not as important as your behavior on the road, which will ultimately dictate the odds of your getting into an accident.
After all, the color cannot save you in all situations, and some people will still pull in front of you even if you are brightly lit like a lighthouse. Being mindful of your immediate surroundings and staying focused is of utmost importance.
Meet Simon, the 46-year-old aficionado behind YourMotoBro. With a lifelong passion ignited by motocross dreams and a Canadian Tire bicycle, Simon’s journey has been nothing short of extraordinary. From coaching underwater hockey to mastering muddy terrains, he’s an authority in thrill and adventure. Certified as an Off-Road Vehicle Excursion Guide and trained in Wilderness First Aid, Simon’s love for bikes is as diverse as his collection—from a robust BMW GSA R1200 to the memories of a Harley Davidson Night Train. By day a respected telephony consultant, by night a motorcycle maestro, Simon’s tales are a blend of expertise, resilience, and undying passion. 🏍️✨